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For more detailed information on Japanese government policy and other such matters, see the following home

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The fusion of historical divisions and modern administrative needs




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Chugoku Kyushu
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Okayama Hiroshima Tottori Shimane Yamaguchi

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Niigata Toyama Ishikawa Fukui Nagano Yamanashi Gifu Shizuoka Aichi


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Fukuoka Saga Nagasaki Oita Kumamoto Kagoshima Miyazaki

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Aomori Akita Iwate Miyagi Yamagata Fukushima


10 11 Nagoya 20 23 Kawasaki 13 Chiba 22 14


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Kagawa Tokushima Kochi Ehime

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Mie Shiga Kyoto Nara Osaka Hyogo Wakayama

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Gumma Tochigi Ibaraki Saitama Chiba Tokyo Kanagawa



he Japanese archipelago consists of mostly mountainous islands that stretch from northeast to southwest about 2,800 km long. In total land area (377,915 sq km, 2006), it is a bit larger than Finland or Italy and roughly the same size as the American state of Montana. The four major islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Japans total population in 2005 was 127,645,000.

Hokkaido Region
This region is formed by Hokkaido Island the northernmost and the second largest

of Japans four main islandsand several surrounding islands. This island is separated from Honshu to the south by the Tsugaru Strait (although the two islands are connected by train service via an undersea tunnel). The climate is very different from the rest of Japan. It is generally cooler in the summer and very cold in the winter. Hokkaido is criss-crossed by mountain ranges and is famous for its natural scenery, including virgin forests, active volcanoes, and large lakes. Kushiro Marsh, in the east of Hokkaido, is famous as a paradise for migrating birds such as the Japanese redcrested crane. Part of the Shiretoko Peninsula

Eight Regions of Japan


in northeast Hokkaido was designated a World Heritage site in 2005. Hokkaido was first settled in the sixteenth century by Japanese who began to trade with the indigenous Ainu people there, but it was in the late nineteenth century that the islands full-scale development was launched by the Meiji administration. Fishing and forestry are important parts of Hokkaidos agriculture and underlie much of the islands industrial activity, including food processing, woodworking, pulp, and paper industries. The capital city, Sapporo, is famous for the Snow Festival held in early February, with many large sculptures made of snow and ice on display, forming spectacular scenes. Hakodate, a large city in the south of Hokkaido, is noted for its beautiful night views. Within Japans system of prefectures, Hokkaido alone is categorized as a circuit, though it is the equivalent of a prefecture.

It takes about half an hour by train from Sendai to Matsushima. Three large, colorful festivals are held each summer in the Tohoku region. They are Nebuta Matsuri, held in Aomori and Hirosaki; Tanabata Matsuri, in Sendai; and Kanto Matsuri, in Akita.

Kushiro Marsh Breeding ground of the Japanese crane and Japans largest wetlands area, Hokkaido Prefectures Kushiro Marsh is part of Kushiro Shitsugen National Park.
Bon Color Photo Agency

Kanto Region
The Kanto region lies in the southeastern part of Honshu and is dominated by the Kanto Plain, Japans largest plain. The climate is generally mild, and the four seasons are sharply delineated. This region, which includes such key cities as Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Saitama, and Chiba, is the most populous region of Japan. The hub of the regionthe Tokyo-Yokohama districtis the core of Japans commerce and industry. The Keihin Industrial Zone and the Keiyo Industrial Region, extending along the shore of Tokyo Bay, form the largest industrial zone of Japan. The satellite suburbs, within about a two hours commuting distance from downtown Tokyo, are expanding, resulting in the urbanization of a large portion of the Kanto region. Though agricultural activity has decreased in general, it is still thriving in the areas to the east and north, and contributes to the regions economy. Tokyo is the capital of Japan. It is home to most large domestic corporations, foreign companies, and the head offices of the mass media. Tokyo is also a center of education. The city is famous as a center of culture and entertainment. It offers a variety of modern and traditional arts. Classical and popular music are performed at Tokyos many concert halls, and there are numerous museums and art galleries. Sightseeing tours of the city by bus have regular scheduled departures. The

Tohoku Region
This largely mountainous region encompasses all of northeastern Japan. Centers of population are found along the coastlines of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, and in several basins. The Tohoku region has short summers and long winters, interspersed with beautiful spring and autumn seasons. Shirakami Sanchi, located in south Aomori Prefecture and Akita Prefecture, has a largescale primeval forest of beech trees; it was registered as a World Heritage site in 1993. The Tohoku area is primarily agricultural: 65% of cultivated land is rice paddy fields, which account for almost a quarter of all the paddy fields throughout the country. However, it is not rare for a cool summer to damage the crops. Fishing and forestry are also important. Industrial activities include electrical appliances, chemical production, pulp processing, cement, and petroleum refining, with some production of petroleum and natural gas. Sendai is the largest city. Matsushima, a group of more than 260 small islands in Miyagi Prefecture, is counted among the three most beautiful sights in Japan.

bus, called Hato (pigeon), visits famous spots such as the Tokyo Tower, Ginza, and Asakusa. Asakusa, where many traditional events and festivals are held, still retains the atmosphere of old Tokyo. Metropolitan Tokyo consists of the 23 wards of urban Tokyo, 26 cities, 5 towns, and 8 villages.

Chubu Region
The Chubu region in central Honshu faces both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. The climate varies greatly according to the area: while the Sea of Japan side is famous for heavy snowfall, the Pacific side generally enjoys a mild climate throughout the year. Some towns, located on plateau, are very popular as summer retreats due to their cool climate. The Japan Alps, which has several lofty mountains and is thus called the Roof of Japan, extends from north to south in the Chubu region. The Chubu region has some of Japans longest rivers and one of the largest riceproducing areas, located along the Sea of Japan. It has three industrial areas: the Chukyo Industrial Zone, which is home to the main facility of Toyota Motors; the Tokai Industrial Region, where Yamaha is based; and the Hokuriku Industrial Region. In addition to rice, agricultural products include tea, mandarin oranges, strawberries, grapes, peaches, and apples. The most famous landmark of this largely mountainous region is Mount Fuji. It is Japans highest (3,776 meters, or 12,388 feet) and most highly regarded mountain, considered sacred by some Japanese. Its conical form has inspired generations of artists and is world renowned as a symbol of Japan. During the climbing season, from July 1 to August 31, it is crowded with climbers. Other sightseeing spots in the Chubu region are the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture, which has a subtropical climate, many beautiful beaches, and a great number of hot springs; and Zenkoji in Nagano Prefecture, a well-known temple that attracts a large number of visitors from all over the country.

Kinki Region
Located in west central Honshu, the Kinki region is Japans second most important area in terms of industry. The ancient capital of Kyoto is in Kinki. So, too, are the cities of Osaka and Kobe (one of Japans most important ports), which form the center of commerce for western Japan. Rice and citrusfruit production, lumbering, and fishing are all important to the regions economy. Kyoto, once the capital of Japan and the residence of emperors from 794 to 1868, is famous for its temples, shrines, and other historic sites, and is a virtual storehouse of officially designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. As a noted tourist resort, Kyoto attracts millions of tourists every year, from throughout Japan and the world. The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto were registered as a World Heritage site in 1994. Osaka is the financial center of western Japan. It is an industrial center as well, especially for chemicals, machinery, steel, and metal. Both the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Sanyo Shinkansen depart from and arrive at Shin-Osaka station (with the exception of some trains going from Tokyo through to Hakata, Kyushu, or Hiroshima). Offering yet another of the three most beautiful views of Japan, Amanohashidate is a sandbar in northeastern Kyoto Prefecture. It is noted for the beauty of its more than 6,000 gnarled pine trees. The term Kansai refers to an area centering roughly on the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. While Kinki has well-defined borders and is an official geographical designation, Kansai is used in a cultural and historic context, and in contradistinction to Kanto.

Snow country A home in a rural village of the Chubu regions Niigata Prefecture, which is known for its heavy snow falls.


People living in this region are said to speak with a Kansai accent, for example.

Chugoku Region
The Chugoku region, encompassing the whole western tip of Honshu, is mountainous, with many small basins and coastal plains. The Inland Sea coast, an important area of industry and commerce, is the most populous part of the region. Large riceproducing areas are concentrated along the plains of the Sea of Japan and the Okayama Plain. The warm, dry climate of the Inland Sea coast is ideal for growing oranges. The last of the three most scenic spots in Japan, Itsukushima, also known as Miyajima, is an island in Hiroshima Prefecture. Famous for its torii gate, which stands in the bay, Itsukushima Shrine became a World Heritage site in 1996. Two cities in JapanHiroshima, in the Chugoku region, and Nagasaki, in the Kyushu regionunderwent atomic bombings during World War II. Near the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima stands the Atomic Bomb Dome, which was registered as a World Heritage site in 1996.

Gion Festival A parade of huge ornate floats (dashi) is featured in this July festival held in the Kinki region city of Kyoto.

Kyushu Region
Kyushu, the southernmost of the four major islands, and more than 1,400 surrounding islands make up the Kyushu region. Kyushu Island has a mountainous i n t e r i o r, w i t h p l a i n s a l o n g t h e c o a s t , volcanoes, and hot springs. The climate is subtropical. Agriculture, stock farming, hog raising, and fishery all flourish. The Kita Kyushu Industrial Zone contains a concentration of heavy and chemical industries. Kyushu is connected to Honshu by road and rail via a bridge and undersea tunnels. Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture is the terminus of the Sanyo Shinkansen. Major sightseeing spots are Beppu in Oita Prefecture, a resort town famous for its hot springs; Mt. Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture; and Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture. Okinawa Prefecture is a chain of 60 islands located far to the south of Kyushu. Okinawa, once called Ryukyu, was an independent kingdom until the seventeenth century and, as such, developed its own distinct dialect and cultural traditions. After World War II and until 1972, Okinawa was controlled by the U.S. military. Tourism is the main industry. Because of the warm climate throughout the year, marine sports are popular. There are many beautiful islands in Okinawa, such as Ishigakijima and Miyako-jima, known for their coral reefs.

Shikoku Region
Shikoku (the smallest of Japans four main islands) along with various satellite islands constitute this region, which spreads across the Inland Sea. The high, steep mountains serve as a limit to farming and habitation, and there is little large-scale industry. However, new development has been spurred by completion of two chains of bridges (Seto Ohashi) that link Shikoku with Honshu. The climate on the Pacific side of Shikoku is subtropical. Naruto Strait, connecting Tokushima P re f e c t u re a n d Aw a j i s h i m a , i n H y o g o Prefecture, is well known for its large whirlpools.

Shimantogawa This Kochi Prefecture river is the second largest in the Shikoku region.


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